This policy statement is an approved approach to the teaching of RSE in St. Dominic’s NS. It was formulated in May 2012 by the principal. There had been no previous stand-alone RSE policy, only a section in the SPHE policy.
The SPHE policy was initially developed by the policy committee for St. Dominic’s NS in 2002. It was developed to inform teachers and parents as to the material covered in the RSE programme within the SPHE curriculum.
St. Dominic’s NS is a Catholic school under the patronage of the Bishop of Ardagh & Clonmacnois. It is managed by a Board of Management, elected according to the procedures agreed by the Partners in Education. The school has a strong Catholic ethos and this ethos is a guiding principle in the formulation and implementation of this RSE Policy. This ethos recognises the value and dignity of each pupil and all those working in the school community, and aims at promoting the full and harmonious development of all aspects of the person, including:
- relationship with God
- relationship with family
- relationship with teachers
- relationship with self
- relationship with others
- relationship with the environment
RSE has formed part of our curriculum for 8 years. This policy is to ensure that we are covering the appropriate content for the children and observing best practice in our teaching methods and in our responsibilities to the wider school community.
Our School vision
Our school cherishes all pupils equally and endeavours to help them in achieving their true potential. With regard to RSE programme we are therefore keen to foster the personal development, health and well-being of the child. We want to ensure that they are prepared for the changes and challenges that come with growing up and moving on in society.
The aims of this policy are:
- To contribute towards the development of all aspects of the individual child.
- To deal with the issue of relationships and sexual education within the parameters of the revised S.P.H.E. programme.
- To enable the child to develop a sense of personal responsibility and come to understand his/her sexuality and the processes of growth, development and reproduction.
Definition of RSE
RSE is an integral part of Social, Personal and Health Education and must be taught in this context. It provides structured opportunities for pupils to acquire knowledge and understanding of human sexuality and relationships through processes, which will enable them to form values and establish behaviours within a moral, spiritual and social framework. (p. 5 NCCA curriculum and guidelines for RSE). RSE is the formal approach to educating children in:
- Relationships with others – parents, siblings, friends and the community in general
- Respect for themselves and others
- Physical development – bodily functions and changes, and personal hygiene
- Emotional development – maturing in society
- Parenting, personal and social skills and relationships
- Sexuality in context – part of a loving relationship.
Relationships and Sexual Education is a lifelong process of acquiring knowledge and understanding and of developing attitudes, beliefs and values about sexual identity, relationships and intimacy. This education is already being delivered both consciously and unconsciously by parents, teachers, peers, adults and the media.
In a school setting R.S.E. will provide structured opportunities for pupils to acquire a knowledge and understanding of human relationships and sexuality through processes which will enable them to form values and establish behaviours within a moral, spiritual and social framework.
Social, Personal and Health Education contributes to developing the work of the school in promoting the good health and well-being of children. Since the Department of Education and Skills has introduced S.P.H.E. as a subject it is considered that the R.S.E. Policy will be closely linked with the S.P.H.E. Policy.
Relationship of RSE to SPHE and Religion
Social, Personal and Health Education contributes to developing the work of the school in promoting the health and well-being of children and young people. This happens in the context of their emotional, moral, social and spiritual growth, as well as their intellectual, physical, political, religious and creative development. (p.5 Going Forward Together Parents Information Booklet).
The key characteristics of this programme are that SPHE is a lifelong process and is a shared responsibility between family, school, health professionals and the community. The main strands of the SPHE programme are:
- Myself and Others
- Myself and the Wider World
It is clear that the Relationships and Sexuality Programme is correctly defined as being an integral part of the programme outlined above. Sexually sensitive issues will be covered within the strand units:
- Taking care of my body
- Growing and changing
- Safety and protection.
As stated previously, the content of all lessons will be governed by the schools’ Catholic ethos as taught in the Alive-O / Grow in Love Religion programme.
Traditionally we have been a child-centred school. The educational and emotional needs of the children in our care are central to our planning and policy making processes. We have always, and will always continue to put the welfare of the children first.
Included in the school curriculum in St. Dominic’s School is:
Religious Education (Alive-O)
Stay Safe Programme
SALT Conflict Resolution Programme.
Policies which support SPHE/RSE
- Code of behaviour and discipline policy
- Headlice Policy
- Anti-Bullying Policy
- Child protection policy
- Enrolment Policy
- Mobile phone policy
- Healthy Eating Policy
- School Tour Policy
- School Visitors Policy
- Internet Safety Policy
- Administration of Medicines Policy.
In keeping with the sentiment and spirit of these policies, we informally support many of the aims on which RSE is modelled. We encourage good behaviour, open communication, understanding and tolerance of differences, and respect for self and others. We recognise that both pupils and staff have rights and responsibilities in our school. A sense of responsibility is fostered and attention is paid to the well being of all of the members of the school community.
Aims of our RSE programme
- When due account is taken of intrinsic abilities and varying circumstances, the Relationships and Sexuality Education curriculum should enable the child to:
- Develop a positive sense of self-awareness, self-esteem and self-worth
- Develop an appreciation of the dignity, uniqueness and well-being of others
- Understand the nature, growth and development of relationships within families, in friendships and in wider contexts
- Develop an awareness of differing family patterns
- Come to value family life and appreciate the responsibilities of parenthood
- Develop strategies to make decisions, solve problems and implement actions in various personal, social and health contexts
- Become aware of the variety of ways in which individuals grow, change and understand that their developing sexuality is an important aspect of self-identity
- Develop personal skills, which will help to establish and sustain healthy personal relationships
- Develop some coping strategies to protect themselves and others from various forms of abuse
- Acquire and improve skills of communication and social interaction
- Acquire and use an appropriate vocabulary to discuss feelings, sexuality, growth and development
- Develop a critical understanding of external influences on lifestyles and decision making.
The Management and Organisation of R.S.E. in Our School
It is intended that the Department’s Guidelines would be adhered to in so far as is possible and that some of the Department’s resource materials will be used.
- Since we have a multi-class situation the committee have agreed that the lessons relating to sexual differences, the conception and development of the baby in the womb and other sensitive issues would be taught in fifth and sixth classes.
- It will be pointed out to the parent(s) that it is the policy of the school to provide R.S.E. to the pupils in accordance with the Department of Education’s Guidelines.
- Written parental consent will be sought for lesson 3 (conception) in 6th class
- It is a parents/guardians right to withdraw a pupil from these lessons. This request for withdrawal must be made in writing.
- If parents/guardians request the withdrawal of a child from RSE lessons, provision will be made for them to leave the classroom at that time. Supervision will be provided. With regard to matters of a confidential nature, the school cannot take any responsibility for what is discussed in the yard or classroom. Should a child who is withdrawn from the sexually sensitive classes receive inappropriate information from others outside of these classes, it will be the responsibility of the parent/guardian to address the issues. Any teacher has the right to opt-out from teaching the sexually sensitive issues in RSE. It is responsibility of Board of Management to ensure that the curriculum will be delivered to the children, by another teacher, or an outside speaker.
- Parents are welcome to view the curriculum and may speak to the class teacher if they have any concerns.
- All children will be given equal access to R.S.E. within the S.P.H.E. curriculum.
- RSE teaching materials
- Busybodies DVD
- Selected worksheets from Health series (Prim-Ed)
Roles & Responsibilities
The policy will be implemented by the principal and staff of St. Dominic’s N.S. and will be supported by the B.O.M., local G.P. and other emergency services. The teachers and parents of any concerned pupils will evaluate it.
Timeframe for Implementation
This policy will be made available to the Parents’ Association. It will also be made available to the teaching staff. Following any revisions, it will be presented to the board at the next meeting for formal ratification. The policy will then be ratified. (This policy does not represent any change to current practice in the school. See SPHE)
Timeframe for Review
This policy will be reviewed with the SPHE policy as part of the School Self-evaluation process.
Responsibility for Review
The responsibility for the review will lie with the principal, teachers, B.O.M. and parents of children attending the school at the time of review.
Ratification & Communication
This policy was ratified in May 2012.